RE: “How did NISR arrive at 3.4% unemployment rate?” (The New Times, July 27).
Having made progress in many areas, unemployment facing our youth and graduates is one of the major problems we must focus on.
Perhaps the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR) must have taken samples from urban areas, especially in Kigali, but still I doubt they would reach this very promising figure.
To make it simple, NISR should look at our available manpower or labour force, with the number of employed both in public and private sector, also, the number of graduates our education institutions produce per year, and number of jobs created per year...still there is a big gap that we need to invest a lot in job creation.
The unemployment rate is the number unemployed as a percentage of the labour force (employed and unemployed). NISR surely uses international definitions of employment/unemployment i.e. their labour force surveys use concepts and definitions of employment and unemployment as endorsed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
An employed person is defined as someone who did any work at a job or business, that is, paid work in the context of an employer-employee relationship, or self- employment.
It also includes unpaid family work, which is defined as unpaid work contributing directly to the operation of a farm, business or professional practice owned and operated by a related member of the same household; or had a job but were not at work due to factors such as own illness or disability, personal or family responsibilities, vacation, labour dispute or other reasons (excluding persons on layoff, between casual jobs, and those with a job to start at a future date).
Using appropriate weights, the part of unpaid family work (defined as part of employment) might significantly outweigh paid work that some people may only consider when defining employment/unemployment, and this reduce the perception of the unemployment rate to levels some believe are too low.
NISR could provide more clarification as it may see fit but I suspect that the misunderstanding only results from differences in the comprehension of the labour force survey questionnaires either by respondents or by part of the public.
The unemployment rate in urban areas is certainly higher and close to what some people suspect, again because of a better understanding of the labour force survey questionnaire by urban respondents or urban residents in general.
I guess NISR is considering unemployment by counting the number of unemployed as a percentage of the total population looking for work. If in Rwanda, majority of people live in the rural area and are self-employed in agriculture, that rural majority cannot be considered unemployed.
In developing economies, unemployment statistics cannot be done the way they are done in USA or other developed economies.
NISR study ignored Rwanda's economic reality by looking at the entire population indiscriminately.
To me, the report should have been clearer. For instance, NISR should have given us the number of the unemployed in the cities, rate of unemployment among university graduates, high school leavers, youth unemployment…
Otherwise, the unemployment rates they provided are irrelevant.